There was once a time when people knew the unwritten rules about camping etiquette, like being quiet at night, not camping to close to your neighbours, bury your waste, don’t let your kids wake your neighbours at 6am 🙂 etc. But as the number of people travelling our great country increases, especially visitors from other countries and with people looking for more comfort things, like TV’s, computers, generators etc. people either don’t know or don’t care what is good camping etiquette.
So I thought I would do up a page on camping etiquette. The following points are not our thoughts and views even though we agree with them all. I (Kate) put this question on several camping pages/forums asking people to express their views, points and suggestions on what they considered was good camping etiquette and why. So the following points have been collated from feedback of the camping/travelling fraternity.
Hopefully between all of us we can educate others that are new to camping, visiting from overseas and maybe let those that haven’t given a toss before, realise that there are others to consider.
There are 12 tips listed (in no particular order). The points listed below includes comments the camping/travelling fraternity wanted mentioned. I really encourage you to take the time and read all the information. It might seem like a lot of reading but trust me you will gain understanding why these points are important to people, have a much more pleasurable, conflict free, happy, memorable, fun camping experience, which is what we all want 🙂 if you take the time to read all of the following suggestions in detail.
Keep in mind these are suggestions and guidelines only, they are not rules, they cannot be enforced. You can’t evict someone who doesn’t do the right thing and consider their neighbour or others camping close to them, they just might not be the most popular person in the campsite.
Generators -This is a bit of a controversial one, that has caused many an argument. Some people find them really annoying no matter what time of day or night they are used and say that people shouldn’t use them at all, others say use them in moderation and with consideration. For those that say they shouldn’t be used, I think it’s about time you accepted that people are going to use them whether you like it or not, so rather than just grumble and complain and say a blanket statement like people should stay at home if they want to run the genie, let’s work out what times are suitable. Times we can all live with. Keep in mind it’s not the generator that is the issue it’s the people using them inconsiderately that is the issue. We will all have different views on times, in reply to this question I got so many varying times it’s no wonder there is confusion and disagreements over them. We have gone to several commercial operated camping places that allow genies that state that generators can be run between 8am – 8pm. So that time would be a good general guide, however we personally wouldn’t run our genie that late or even after dark especially if people were around. If we have to run it for some reason say to cook tea, we would go and talk to our neighbours and let them know we were going to run it for a short time only, then they know when the noise will cease and won’t be so anxious that the genie is going to run for hours. If you need to run the generator 24/7 to run your fridge, sorry but it’s about time you upgraded it to a more suitable economical camping one and get some batteries and solar. Yes it can be expensive but no one said setting up for independent/free camping was cheap; it’s just pulling off the road at free camps that is cheap.
So listening to feedback, comments and several polls that were conducted, the majority of people are happy for people to run their generator as long as it’s done responsibly and in consideration to those camping near you. The following tips were suggested as a way to help keep things friendly with your neighbours.
- Between the hours of 8am to 8pm, are considered reasonable times to run them. However many would prefer that no genie was used after 5pm or before 9am. Of course if there is no one else around, you are free to run it when it suits you. Also don’t run your generator all day, give people a break.
- If you know you need to run the genie when you arrive at camp, try and camp away from others, keep it close to you and don’t direct the noise of the genie towards other people.
- Some people might need to run the genie due to medical reasons like a CPAP machine, if you are one of these people again try and camp away from others, if someone goes to set up camp near you maybe go and let them know first that you will need to run your genie. Then it’s their choice if they choose to camp near you knowing you are going to run it.
- During the day go and see people camped close to you and let them know you are going to run the genie for a few hours but it will be off by 8pm or earlier. It was suggested you could offer to charge any laptop, batteries etc. for them as a nice gesture.
- If it’s after dark and you need to run your genie to cook tea, say to use your microwave go and talk to your neighbours and let them you are going to run it for a short time only, then they know when the noise will cease and won’t be so anxious that the genie is going to run for hours. But don’t run it at all after 8pm.
- It is advisable to have a quiet generator like a Honda or Yamaha. There are new ones coming onto the market all the time so look at the specs and compare the noise levels and choose a quiet one.
- Keep in mind that in Qld generators are not allowed to be used in national parks. Check each state’s regulation on this. Of course obey any other signs stating if and when generators can be used.
Noises – Noise is noise no matter what the source is. The noise people make around camping areas was a pet hate for most people, a couple of points listed below were mentioned as particularly annoying. In general keep any noise to a minimum day or night, whether it’s a TV, chain saw, generator, music, talking, kids, radio, sliding doors or barking dogs. People are there to enjoy nature, to get away from the hustle and bustle, so be considerate. Go for a walk away from your camp site and listen to see how far the TV, talking, radio, generator, etc. can be heard. Keep in mind people might not share your love of cricket; the footy, horse racing etc. and might not appreciated you cheering your favourite team on. If you have to arrive late at a campsite, keep in mind others are in bed and set up quietly.
- Loud talking. It’s all great fun to chat around the campfire, tell jokes with your mates, have a laugh, meet new friends and in general have an awesome time. Trouble is not everyone is in your little group, so those trying to sleep, or just enjoying the silence of the night enjoying the starry sky might not appreciate the noise you are making. And not everyone needs to hear or know what you are talking about day or night, they don’t want to hear about other people’s domestics, sex lives, jobs, kids etc. So be considerate to others, put yourself in their shoes. Caravan parks state there should be no noise after 10pm, so this is a pretty good guide; you will find most people will be in bed by then. And watch the language, I remember as a kid when men didn’t swear in front of women, personally I still don’t like it when you meet someone for the first time, they don’t even know you and start swearing their head off. Be respectful, realise some people might find swearing offensive and there are children around.
- Music. This came up several times as a pet hate. People go camping because they love the great outdoors, love the sound of the birds chirping, sound of the water running, enjoy the peace and tranquillity nature can offer. Then someone turns up with the sound up full blast in their car, yelling at each other over the stereo and then continue to do that throughout the night. No go people. Same with having the mp3s playing, the radio on or playing musical instruments, like guitars. Keep in mind not everyone has your taste in music, not everyone thinks you are Tommy Emmanuel on the guitar, not everyone thinks you sing like the angels. So be considerate, sure play your music but make sure only the people at your campsite that can hear it. Be aware that at night noise travels, so you might need to turn it down lower than you have it on during the day. Go for a walk away from your camp site and listen to see how far the music can be heard, keep in mind some people’s hearing might be better than yours 😉
- Whiz bang vans. Campervans with sliding doors. We have lost count of the amount of people that complain about the noise from whiz bang vans. Most of these seem to be tourists; the “Wicked Vans” come to mind. Don’t open and close the doors continuously, especially at night, they really make a lot of noise. E.g. If one person in the van needs to go to the toilet at night, see if anyone else does too. Don’t one go, then the next disturbing your neighbour opening and closing the door as they make lots of noise at night. Aussies are friendly people but they really don’t take to noisy whiz bang vans.
The odd drop or two – Many people like to have the odd glass of wine or a beer with mates. Nothing wrong with that, any issues usually come into play when people have had a few too many drinks, the noise escalates, bad language is used, and people start behaving in a manner they normally wouldn’t. So if there are other’s around don’t drink so much you become intoxicated. And for Pete’s sake do not throw your glass bottles, bottle tops or tin cans into the fire, they do not burn, they just make an unsightly mess. You can have a great time with your mates without spoiling other people’s camping experience.
Keep Australia clean – We love our country, most people are clean and do the right thing, it’s just a few that don’t seem to care. Put your rubbish in your bin, this includes cigarette butts and beer cans. If there are no bins take your rubbish with you, make sure you leave a site cleaner than when you arrived and if you see rubbish somewhere else, do Australia a favour and pick it up. If there are bins and they are full don’t just pile your rubbish on top of it, again take it with you. Birds, other animals and the wind can distribute the rubbish everywhere and make a big mess. Our wildlife is precious, we don’t want to see them choking on a plastic bag or a piece of your rubbish.
- Sullage/waste water. Use a bucket, or run hoses under your van, into the bush or to a tree don’t let it run into open common areas or onto someone’s site. Also keep sullage hoses and disposal of any grey water away from all water courses.
Give people some space – This really was a big issue for people. No one likes to be crowded in, so don’t camp on top of the person next to you especially if the rest of the camping area is empty. Us Aussies like the wide open spaces, so camp well away. If you want to camp close go and stay at a caravan park. Keep all your ropes, tarps, poles, pegs, belongings, dogs etc. on your site. Keep in mind that not all people want to make friends and want privacy and to keep to themselves, be respectful of that. When fishing don’t plonk yourself right next to someone else, again give them some room and find another spot. Basically respect other people’s right to privacy, space and some peace and quiet.
Fur Kids, (dogs) – This one also came up a lot with people. Goes without saying to pick up after your dog and collect their doggy doo, unfortunately some don’t, nothing worse than standing in some or driving over it and having the smell permeate your whole campsite. As a responsible dog owner it’s your responsibility to pick up after it. If other people are around keep your dog at your campsite or on a lead, don’t let it go into other people’s campsite. One person told how a dog jumped onto someone else’s BBQ. No one likes a wet dog to shake themselves over you especially if it’s someone else’s dog. I love dogs but I don’t appreciate having a dog jump up on me. It can be very frightening for the owner and for the dog when someone else’s dog whether on a lead or not lunges out, jumps on or fights with another dog. Some children are scared of dogs and even if they aren’t as parents we don’t appreciate some dog racing up to our child, friendly or not. We are all entitled to go for a walk, sit in peace without having some dog barking at us or barking at the slightest sound during the night. If your dog should stray and doesn’t come when it’s called, don’t keep yelling Fido’s name out across the campsite, go and get it and put it on a lead. Keep your dog under control, keep it quiet, clean up after it, don’t let it disturb your fellow campers and you will get on well with your neighbours and have a great time with your beloved pet. 🙂
The bathroom – I’m horrified that this still needs to be mentioned and if you are one of the people that go to the toilet and leave your mess and toilet paper sitting on the ground, then sorry you are a filthy pig. If you do not have a portable toilet, carry a spade with you and dig a hole, go in the hole and bury your waste. It is a big NO NO in the Australian bush to leave your mess visible. Also do not go near waterways, do not go close to camping areas, go for a wee walk, no one wants to see, smell or step in your doo doos.
- Showering. If you need to have a bath in the creek make sure you use environmental safe and friendly products. The chemicals in normal soap and shampoo pollute our waterways that animals swim and drink in. For that matter don’t throw buckets of dirty washing up water into the creeks either. The best bet is to always use biodegradable, environmentally safe products for showering, dishwashing, clothes washing and the porta loo.
- Porta Potti/Loos. It’s preferable to find a designated dump point to empty your toilet cassette, there is a dump point list in the back of the Camps Australia Wide book. Use biodegradable environmentally friendly toilet chemicals in case you need to empty it somewhere else. If there is a sign up at a toilet block, long drop loo etc. saying don’t empty your toilet cassette in the toilet, then don’t do it. If you have to empty it out in the bush, again dig a big hole well away from people, campsites and water ways and bury it deep.
Speed limits around camp – Keep to the speed limits, the speed limit is set for a reason (there are pedestrians around). And slow down even further on dirt or dusty roads, no one appreciates getting dust thrown up over their campsite. In general obey any camp rules around the place; they are there for a reason.
Communal tables and BBQ’s – They are exactly that, not put there for one’s personal use. Please don’t claim them for your own and put your gear all over them. Others are entitled to use them too.
Our beautiful babies, the perfect little angels we call our children – Kids are kids and they are going to make noise, they are going to ride their bikes around the campsite, kick the footy in the open areas, play cricket and in general make a racket. That’s what being a kid is all about. I think kids need to be kids, they grow up to quickly, many people mention we wrap our kids in cotton wool, they sit inside all day watching TV or playing computer games and then when they get out doors we want them to sit quiet, not run around and make noise. Come on, be reasonable, we no longer live in an era where children should be seen and not heard. Remember what it was like when you were a kid (for some that’s a long time ago :P) or when your kids were younger. Ok there are two sides to the story, yes kids need to be kids but there are hours in the day when people are more tolerant of that. 6 in the morning is not one of them, nor is 10 at night. Teach your children to respect other people’s belongings, campsite, space and privacy. No one appreciates a football flying through their campsite or a cricket ball hitting the roof of their car, or feral kids causing havoc without any parental supervision. One thing I find annoying, is in the morning dear little Johnny wakes up early but mum and dad still want to sleep, so they send dear little Johnny to play over near someone else’s campsite, mmm not the way to go. The general guideline is no noise before 7am and kids should be quieting down by 7pm. Kids need to be supervised, know where your little darling is at all times, don’t scream their name throughout the campsite. Unfortunately there can be some unsavoury characters out there, so it’s for your child’s protection that you know where they are and who they are with. Our children are precious, let’s keep them safe 🙂
Campfires – Don’t you love a great campfire, sitting there watching the flames, being memorized by their dancing. Letting it warm your toes, drinking your hot chocolate before bed and toasting marshmallows on the coals, after you have cooked your roast on the open fire. Having a chat with your fellow campers around the fire can be a very friendly, enjoyable experience. There are however some guidelines to follow. First up obey any fire restrictions. Keep your fire small and contained, you don’t need a bonfire that is more likely to get out of control and burn the bush around it. If possible collect some rocks and make a circle keeping the fire within that circle. If there are any designated fire pits available use them. Push back any dried grass, sticks and twigs so they don’t catch fire and spread to the surrounding bush. Don’t cut down any trees for firewood. You are not allowed to collect firewood within national parks even if it’s on the ground, so bring any wood in with you. Keep it away from other people’s campsite unless you agree to have it in some communal area. Don’t throw your beer bottles, bottle tops and cans into the fire, they don’t burn. Be aware that some other things, like foil don’t burn and some items like plastic give off toxic smelling fumes and please no dirty nappies in the fire. Make sure you always always put your fire out before retiring for the night or leaving for the day. The wind could pick up and restart the fire if it is left smouldering.
Don’t sweat the small stuff – There are times when someone might do something you find objectionable, in fact it’s likely to happen more than once. But we can’t spend our lives complaining about everything, we are all out there to enjoy ourselves. So choose your battles, for instance someone talking quietly until 10pm is not unreasonable but someone talking loudly until midnight is. I guess we all need to be a little bit more tolerant of our differences. In saying that, there are times when you might need to have a chat to someone and yes dare I say, complain, keep in mind it’s not often what is said but how it’s said, so be respectful and keep things civil. As someone mentioned some people just need to take a chill pill 🙂